Thyroidectomy is the surgical treatment procedure that involves partial or complete removal of the thyroid gland. This surgical treatment is essential to treat most severe cases of thyroid disorders and diseases such as thyroid cancer, benign (non-cancerous) nodule causes breathing and swallowing difficulties or especially in hyperthyroidism cases where other treatment methods such as radioactive iodine have been unsuccessful in treating it.

Why is a Thyroidectomy needed?

A thyroidectomy is one of the most ideal and efficient forms of treatment for a large number of thyroid disorders and diseases. Surgical treatment has been known to be most effective in successfully treating cases of hyperthyroidism when other treatment methods have failed. A thyroidectomy is usually advised if:
  • Thyroid cancer is determined or suspected
  • A benign (non-cancerous) nodule in the thyroid gland presents difficulties in swallowing and breathing
  • A cystic (fluid-filled) nodule constantly recurs after being drained previously
  • A large goiter causes abnormal enlargement of the thyroid gland and the neck resulting in difficulty in swallowing and breathing

What is a Thyroidectomy procedure?

A thyroidectomy procedure basically involves partial, or complete, removal of your thyroid gland in order to treat various disabling symptoms of a number of medical disorders. This surgery is required to treat a large number of severe thyroid disorders such as extensive hyperthyroidism, thyroid cancer, goiter, etc. The thyroidectomy procedure is performed using various different approaches and may vary from patient to patient. These are the several surgical methods for performing a thyroidectomy:

Total Thyroidectomy

This surgery requires the surgeon to remove the complete thyroid gland along with the lymph nodes that surround the thyroid gland. Both lobes (sections) of the thyroid gland are resected (removed) in this surgery. This surgery requires additional treatment methods using TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormones) suppression and radioactive iodine therapy to restore functions of the removed thyroid glands.

Thyroid Lobectomy with/without Isthmectomy

A thyroid lobectomy is the procedure to remove the lobe (section) where the thyroid nodule is located for a detailed examination of the lobe using microscopic diagnostic methods. This examination is a screening test to determine the presence of cancerous cells in the thyroid nodule. In case the nodule is found to be originating from cancerous cells the surgeon will perform a total thyroidectomy to remove the complete thyroid gland and the surrounding lymph nodes to restrict it from spreading to other organs. An isthmectomy involves removal of the thin band of tissue called the ‘isthmus’ which connects the two sections (lobes) of the thyroid gland.

Partial Thyroidectomy

This surgical method requires removal of both lobes completely except for a small strip of connecting tissue between the laryngeal nerve entry point and the superior parathyroid gland. This surgery is mostly used to treat cases of hyperthyroidism caused by Graves’ disease.

What are the risks associated with Thyroidectomy?

Although a thyroid surgery is generally a safe surgical procedure there are rare chances of several complications from arising, such as:
  • Hoarseness – The voice-controlling nerves around the larynx may get damaged during thyroidectomy although this is a preventable risk with an experienced surgeon.
  • Hypoparathyroidism – This complication is seen when the thyroidectomy surgery results in damaging or removal of the parathyroid glands.
In cases of total thyroidectomy there are chances of developing hyperthyroidism and the patient may have to take artificial thyroid hormones regularly for their lifetime. In case a patient undergoes a partial thyroidectomy or a lobectomy there is a risk of development of hypothyroidism which may require medicinal thyroid replacement treatment for a lifetime. In case of thyroidectomy for thyroid cancer the patient is likely to be treated with radioactive iodine therapy post-surgery for ensuring complete removal of any remaining cancerous thyroid tissue or cancer cells. Some hyperthyroidism surgical treatment cases may require calcium supplements due to low calcium levels in the body after surgery.
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